Nothing happens

Your ignition is on, The neutral and oil pressure lights light, but pressing the starter does nothing.

Check your engine cut off switch is in the run position. If not, switch it and try again. Most of us have done this one when we first got the bike. Next check your clutch is pulled in. Some models of the GS500 need this to be done before the engine will start.

Clicking noise

If you hear a clicking noise when trying to start your bike, and the engine doesn't turn over, do not panic! This is NOT a sign that the starter relay or motor is bad. Your battery simply doesn't have enough juice. The starter relay closes, allowing current to flow to the starter motor. However, if the battery is weak, its voltage drops and the relay opens again, making a click. This happens over and over, hence the clicking.

The three possible reasons your battery is weak are:

  • bad battery
  • bad alternator/rectifier (charging circuit)
  • you let the battery discharge (parking light on, etc.)

If you jump- or bump-start the bike, go for a ride, turn the bike off, and try to start it again, and the battery is fine, that usually means that the charging circuit works fine.

If the bike won't start the next day, that usually means the battery won't hold a charge. Check electrolyte levels and specific gravity, adjust if necessary, and try the above procedure again. If that still doesn't work, get a new battery.

Also check and clean the battery terminals and connections. If they are not very clean not only will the charging system have a hard time charging up the battery, the bike may be hard to start due to slower cranking and weak spark.

If the bike is having as much trouble starting after you ride it, then the charging circuit may be bad. Follow the procedure in the Clymer or Haynes manual for testing the circuit with a multimeter.